Combination of ‘faux’ and ‘photographer’ – a person who misrepresents themselves as a professional photographer, despite lacking technical skill.
Cameras are more widely available than ever. Almost everyone carries around a smartphone, many of which boast two cameras, and this means that photography is now incredibly common. Modern teenagers take more photos in a week than most people would take in a lifetime, and some of them start to think that this means they are an expert photographer.
Sturgeon’s law states that ninety percent of everything is bad. When it comes to photography, this is true. Owning a paintbrush doesn’t make you Michelangelo, and owning a DSLR doesn’t make you Ansel Adams. Some of these smartphone photographers masquerade as professionals despite having no real expertise or training, and are selling their sub-standard services for dirt cheap prices. These are fauxtographers, and when you are searching for an affordable wedding photographer, you need to be careful to avoid them.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Ensure that they have a dedicated website. A facebook page is not enough – someone who does this professionally, and holds themselves to a high standard, will have a dedicated website, whereas someone who is not running a legitimate business has no need for a website.
They show you every photo. This might seem like a good thing at first, as they are being completely open, but this is a bad sign. Even professionals make mistakes, and not every photo will be up to standard. If someone shows you every photo it either means that they have low standards, or they simply don’t care. Both of these are bad.
To see a sample of their work, look at an entire album. This will be what you are given if you hire them, so it is the best indication of their skill. A wedding album will be every photo that the photographer feels is worthy of being given to the client, but will be more photos than they can fluke or steal from someone else.
Check for consistency. Look for patterns, and look for the photographer’s style. Every experienced wedding photographer will have a distinct style that they have developed over time. If someone’s photos are in a variety of different styles it is an indicator that they are still new and still experimenting (not necessarily a bad thing), or they are stealing work from multiple other photographers.
A drastically lower price than the competition. If the price seems too low, there is a probably a reason for that. Professional cameras, lenses, and editing software are expensive, and a professional photographer will spend a considerable amount time after the wedding touching up the photos. If the price is low, it means they aren’t using professional equipment, or they aren’t taking the time to edit the photos. Neither of these are acceptable.
There is no contract. Contracts exist for a reason – they protect the consumer, and they protect the photographer, by legally obliging both parties to keep up their end of the agreement. A lack of a contract is an indication that the photographer doesn’t intend to or can’t guarantee that they will do what they are paid for.
Examine their work for obvious mistakes. Incorrect skin tone, noticeable editing, hotspots/blowouts (a section that is completely white due to too much light), and out of focus subjects are simple, easily visible mistakes that no professional will make.
Throw photography terminology at them. You don’t have to be an expert yourself, but if they are unfamiliar with terms such as Shutter Speed, ISO, or Aperture, they don’t understand how their equipment works and they don’t know what they doing. A more advanced trick is to ask them about what lenses they use. If they list f/5.8 or f/4, be skeptical, as these are hobbyist grade lenses, rather than professional grade.
Ask for recommendations. Online reviews can be easily faked and should not be trusted. A real professional wedding photographer will be able to pass along the contact information of previous clients so that you can ask them. Another trick is to look at photos that are posted on Facebook. If the people in the photo are commenting or mentioned in the comments, this means that this is the original Facebook page. If the comments are full of generic comments like ‘great!’ or ‘beautiful!’, it usually means that the photos are taken from somewhere else.
You only have one opportunity to get your wedding photos taken, so it is important that you make sure that you have hired a professional wedding photographer, so that you can be confident that the photos will be as amazing as your wedding is.